The theme for this year's National Student Commonwealth Forum is Climate Change.
What is climate change?
Climate change can be understood as shifts in weather patterns and temperatures. Some of these shifts are naturally occurring because of our changing planet but at NSCF we will be focusing on global warming that has been driven by human behaviour, such as the use of fossil fuels, steel, concrete, and beef production. Activists have encouraged the use of the term the “climate crisis” or the “climate emergency” to emphasize the urgency of the situation.
Climate change is dramatically impacting terrestrial, ocean, and freshwater ecosystems and species; food production; and health and wellbeing; and is damaging infrastructure across the world.
How does climate change impact Commonwealth countries?
Climate change is already impacting Commonwealth countries and will continue to do so at an accelerating rate. Thirty-one of the 56 Commonwealth countries are classified as small island developing states. The increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and rising sea levels puts many Commonwealth countries at risk of famine, economic disruption, and/or physical displacement.
Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss and debate changes that Commonwealth countries can take in confronting this crisis, looking at the merits and demerits of different policy solutions.
What is the Commonwealth doing about this?
The Commonwealth is working hard to address climate change through the promotion of a zero carbon economy plan, moving to increase focus on adaptation measures for small states that are already impacted by climate change, and funding Commonwealth countries with developing economies.
Gender Inequality and Climate Change
Why is it important to focus on how climate change impacts women?
The Commonwealth Gender Integration for Climate Action report found that “underrepresentation of women in climate policies and plans, poor access to climate finance, technologies, and lack of capacity for effective decision-making compounds inequality.”
Saint Lucia is an example of how important it is to focus on both gender equality and climate change. Saint Lucia's Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer states that “Noteworthy, women have assumed entrepreneurial roles over regular farming skills, in women-only farming groups. Consequently, as entrepreneurs, women can actively influence the strategic decision-making requirements necessary for the agriculture sector to become more climate-resilient”
What is the commonwealth doing about the issue of climate change and gender?
Overall, 65 percent of Commonwealth countries included gender as a cross-cutting or mainstreaming priority in new or updated National Development Strategies.
Indigenous People and Climate Change
Why is it important to focus on Indigenous people and the Commonwealth?
Approximately one-third of the world’s Indigenous peoples live in the Commonwealth, across Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Africa, the Pacific and Europe.
What has the Commonwealth been doing to support Indigenous people?
“We are extremely proud that through our Commonwealth Common Earth programme, we have been able to showcase the potential of indigenous knowledge to generate a remarkable and growing range of sustainable and practical climate solutions, in areas such as agriculture, natural resource management, weather prediction and biodiversity conservation.” - Secretary-General Patricia Scotland
An example is in Guyana where the Macushi tribe continue to promote their nature-based way of life, including through the work of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, jointly founded by the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
What specific Commonwealth countries are doing about climate change.
Some key resources in assessing climate change policy.